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Project History

At CERL's Annual General Meeting in 2000 an initiative was set up to investigate whether the Consortium’s success in establishing the Hand Press Book Database for printed books might be extended to manuscript materials, in the belief that the ability to search for both manuscript and printed material would be of real benefit to scholars. It was not intended to create a new database catalogue of files contributed by institutions, but to investigate the possibility of creating facilities for cross-file searching of existing databases. The project is to concentrate on Western materials without setting limits in terms of periods.

A preliminary report was presented to the Annual General Meeting in November 2001. As a result of this, a small working group under the chairmanship of Dr Lotte Hellinga continued the investigation by compiling a survey of current database catalogue projects of manuscript materials, as well as selecting three databases for a pilot project. A further report was made to the Annual General Meeting in 2002, which decided that the project should seek to integrate searching manuscript databases, the Hand Press Book Database and the CERL Thesaurus.

In 2003 CERL commissioned Radcliffe Interactive to draft a broad-based report to assist CERL to arrive at a decision about what available products to choose in order to achieve its objective of establishing a system for cross-file searching of web-based databases of manuscript materials. This report was presented to CERL’s Executive Committee, its Advisory Task Group and at the LIBER Expert Group of European manuscript librarians’ conference 'The Changing Role of the Manuscript Librarian' held 5-8 March 2003. Both the Preliminary Report (October 2001) and the Radcliffe Interactive Report (March 2003) can be downloaded as PDF files.

Pilot services

The Annual General Meeting in 2003 authorised the commissioning of two pilot projects to test the ideas which had been developed by the Working Group. The pilot projects were asked to demonstrate distributed searching of three manuscript databases, the Hand Press Book database and the CERL Thesaurus. The two pilot projects were evaluated by a team of testers and the Manuscripts Working Group which recommended one of them for further development. This proposal was discussed by CERL’s Advisory Task Group and Executive Committee, which put forward recommendations for a Stage Two pilot project directed by a specially recruited project manager. These recommendations were accepted by the Annual General Meeting in November 2004.

At this meeting it was suggested that, in addition to further enhancement of one of the pilots, searching data harvested through the Open Archives Initiative protocol should also be investigated. This suggestion was accepted and the Electronic Publishing Centre of the University Library of Uppsala in Sweden was asked to develop a pilot based on this principle.

Drs Liesbeth Oskamp began work as Project Manager on 1 March 2005. In 2005 the pilot favoured by the 2004 AGM was further enhanced and EPC developed another pilot, based on harvesting by OAI. Both pilots were thoroughly examined and tested by manuscripts scholars, curators and database experts. After comparing the two pilots on technical issues, scalability and search performance, the experiences with the development teams and other issues, the Project Manager and the ATG recommended that the OAI portal should be continued as an operational service, to be hosted, maintained and further developed by EPC. The Executive Committee seconded this recommendation and at the 2005 AGM the members decided unanimously in favour of this action. In December 2005 the working relationship between CERL and EPC was formalised.

With the finalisation of the project, the Manuscripts Working Group was dissolved in June 2006. During the project the Working Group has played an important role in advising CERL and testing the test portals. In September 2006 the Working Group was replaced by a smaller Advisory Board chaired by Ivan Boserup of Det Kongelige Bibliotek, Copenhagen.

Former Manuscripts Working Group

  • Ivan Boserup (Chair since November 2004), Det Kongelige Bibliotek, Copenhagen
  • Fernanda Campos, Biblioteca Nacional, Lisbon, a member of CERL’s Executive Committee
  • Consuelo Dutschke, Columbia University, New York, and Digital Scriptorium
  • Mura Ghosh, University of London Library, London
  • Robert Giel, Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin (from June 2005)
  • Lotte Hellinga, former Secretary of CERL
  • Dirk Imhof, Plantin-Moretus Museum, Antwerp
  • Anne Korteweg, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague
  • Cristina Misiti, University of Viterbo, Rome
  • Andrew Prescott, University of Sheffield
  • Fabienne Queyroux, Bibliothèque de l’Institut de France, Paris
  • Zdenék Uhlír, National Library, Prague
  • Jutta Weber, Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin (until June 2005)
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 resources/cerl_portal/project_history.txt · Last modified: 2012/08/31 09:57 (external edit)

 

 

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